E-Commerce Directive

E-Commerce Directive in Europe

The main objective of “Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market” (e-commerce Directive) is to create a legal framework to cover certain legal aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market. (Recital (7) and (8) e-commerce Directive).

Central definitions

Information society services

Information society services are: “any service normally provided for remuneration, at a distance, by electronic means and at the individual request of a recipient of services”. (Art. 2 a e-commerce Directive).

Established information society service provider

This means a service provider who effectively pursues an economic activity using a fixed establishment for an indefinite period. The presence and use of the technical means and technologies required to provide the service do not, in themselves, constitute an establishment of the provider. (Art. 2 c e-commerce Directive).

Recipient of a service

Any natural or legal person, who, for professional ends or otherwise, uses an information society service, in particular for the purposes of seeking information or making it accessible. (Art. 2 d e-commerce Directive). The definition covers all types of usage of information society services, both by persons who provide information on open networks such as the internet and by persons who seek information on the internet for private or professional reasons. (Recital (20) e-commerce Directive).

Coordinated field

See the Coordinated field entry here.

The coordinated field (34 Art. 2 h e-commerce Directive) consists of requirements laid down in Member States’ legal systems applicable to information society service providers or information society services, regardless of whether they are of a general nature or specifically designed for them.
These requirements are for example requirements applying to the taking up of the activity of an information society service, such as requirements concerning qualifications, authorisation or notification. Furthermore requirements regarding the pursuit of the activity of an information society service, such as requirements concerning the behaviour of the service provider, requirements regarding the quality or content of the service including those applicable to advertising and contracts, or requirements concerning the liability of the service provider.

The coordinated field does not cover requirements applicable to goods as such or to the delivery of goods. Requirements applicable to services not provided by electronic means are also not covered.


Free movement

An information society service has the right of free movement. Two principles are in this regard important: the rule of origin and the freedom of services.

No prior authorization

The provisioning of information society services may in principle not be made subject to prior authorization (or any other requirement having equivalent effect). See Prior Authorization.

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